Transient, Stress-Related Paranoid Ideation and Borderline Personality Disorder
According to the DSM (Diagnostical Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Criteria for Diagnosing BPD)One of the possible criteria for a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is:
"Transient, stress-related paranoid ideationor severe dissociative symptoms."
While I could always easily identify with experiencing the severe dissociation, I couldn't really connect with experiencing the stress-related paranoia -- until last night. And, once I did, I realized that it has actually been a part of my condition for a while - it just was not in my conscious awareness.
Perhaps because I have a close relative who has schizoaffective disorder and who experiences more elaborate, frightening episodes of paranoia, I assumed that this was what paranoia looked like for everyone.
** POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING **
However, last night, as I lay in bed, I heard a clicking sound in the next room. My thought immediately went to: "Someone broke into the house with a switchblade knife and is going to kill me!" Not, "The cats are probably playing," or "The house is settling," or "So what - a click." My thoughts jumped to fears that someone was going to harm me.
Of course no one had broken in, but I've had similar thoughts before. I've gotten out of bed in a panicked freakout to check all of the locks on my doors and to check that no one was in my closets or in the shower -- even though I knew in my heart that no one was likely in the house.
Just the other day, I froze on the couch when I heard strange sounds coming from the laundry room. Turned out, it was just my new refrigerator.
I attribute these episodes, in large part, to traumatic events I've experienced in my life. I have been held at gunpoint. I have been prevented from leaving a house for a long period of time. My life has been in danger before. Unfortunately, sometimes my mind jumps to the worst possible scenario even now when something scares me, and I tend to believe it a little bit.
**END TRIGGER WARNING**
I'm pretty good at getting into wise mind, but now that I look at it, I do experience some paranoid thoughts when very stressed.
In less severe cases, I've made up "stories" about why people weren't calling me back or emailing me, often terrified that I'd done something to push them away or upset them. Meanwhile, they were caught up in their own lives, and it had nothing to do with me.
Remember, everything has cause, and these reactions are just our brains' ways of protecting us from harm, based on previous experiences and fears.
The best self-care I have found, so far, for coping with these episodes are self-soothing and distraction, along with getting into a Wise Mind state as soon as possible.
I challenge the thoughts by considering the reality of my safety (and sometimes I check things out by getting up and looking around the house if I feel so compelled), but I usually just stay right where I am and ask myself how realistic I think my thoughts are. I can usually conclude that I'm overreacting - or, more precisely, being paranoid.
I remind myself that I am safe and sound. The past is the past, and in this moment, there is no trauma. I am also cautious to be sure there really is no present danger, but 99% of the time, there is not.
Do you ever experience stress-related paranoid ideation? How does it show up for you? How do you cope?